Wherever you are, the Library is with you

Dear University of Chicago Faculty, Students, and Staff,

As we begin this Spring Quarter from disparate locations across the country and around the globe, I write to assure you that, wherever you are, the Library is with you.

The Library’s physical buildings were closed on March 20 and will remain closed until further notice due to the extension of the stay-at-home order for Illinois through at least April 30. Nonetheless, the Library is online and here to help you with your research, teaching, and learning.

Throughout spring break, Library staff members worked steadily to pivot our services and resources in ways that will serve you best. We have been purchasing ebooks and other digital media and working with many faculty members to build online course reserves even as the buildings have been closed and the print collections have been inaccessible. We are expanding the hours of our Ask a Librarian service responsively and creating new instructional support for digital scholarship. Librarians are online and prepared to work with you as we explore new formats, new methods, and new media.

Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian
Brenda Johnson, Library Director and University Librarian (Photo by John Zich, 2015)

The Library is working diligently to increase access to digital collections through a wide variety of collaborations, agreements, and purchases.  We are one of many institutions working with the HathiTrust collaborative to provide additional online book content under our extraordinary circumstances. Their Emergency Temporary Access program allows access to digitized books that are still in copyright if the Library holds a copy in print. Access to approximately 40% of the Library’s print monographs is being provided electronically in this way. Librarians have also been monitoring publishers and databases and have created a resource guide that lists all the expanded and upgraded access that has been made available in response to this crisis. We also want to draw your attention to the rich array of digitized collections from our Special Collections, the University Archives, the Map Library, and general collections.

As we move into this online state, we want to ensure that your connection to the library persists and even grows. University of Chicago librarians can partner with you and provide a direct connection with our resources and services. For example, our librarians will investigate whether materials are available in an online format, provide guidance on access, or make suggestions for alternatives in the event a text or film is not available. Subject librarians are working closely with the Library’s Reserves and Acquisitions staff, along with IT Services’ Academic Technology Services, to provide course materials through instructors’ Canvas sites.

Our librarians can also provide remote library instruction to students. Librarian-led programs on using our digital collections and developing effective online research skills are available via Canvas or Zoom web conference. You can request an instruction session for a course or work with librarians to connect with students in innovative ways.

Although I cannot tell you exactly when the Library buildings will reopen or how all the details of this Spring Quarter will unfold, I can tell you that the Library has millions of ebooks, hundreds of thousands of ejournals, and more than 11,000 streaming videos, assembled by an expert staff with many years of experience working with you and delivering online services. We are therefore building on our strengths as we face this moment. We are committed to rising to the challenges that COVID-19 and a Spring Quarter of remote learning present, and we are proud to work with you to continue the research and education at the heart of the University of Chicago’s distinctive academic community.

With warmest regards,

Brenda L. Johnson
Library Director and University Librarian